Putting the Teamwork in Leadership Team

By Doug Eadie

When I speak at workshops and at state and national conferences, one of the questions I’m asked most frequently is: “How should we, as school board members, interact with district administrators other than our superintendent?”

The questions then go deeper: “What are the dos and don’ts we should pay attention to in dealing with the people who run the district on a day-to-day basis? How do we know when we’ve lapsed into dysfunctional behavior, such as micromanagement?”

Before getting into the details, I always remind the audience that governing really is a team sport, involving what I call the strategic governing team: the school board, the superintendent, and senior administrators.

Obviously, no school board can go it alone in the governing game; close interaction and collaboration with -- and strong support from -- your superintendent and senior administrators is essential in making effective governing judgments and decisions. If you build a cohesive strategic governing team in your district, you are much more likely to be a well-governed educational enterprise that is guided by a clear strategic vision and long-range goals, that sets sensible operational targets and allocates precious resources rationally, and that rigorously monitors district educational performance.

So, by definition, you want lots of contact and interaction among board members and administrators, since this is a tried-and-true team-building strategy. That said, effective school board–administrator interaction depends on well-designed structures and processes that provide you with clear “rules of the game.”

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